PRESEASON PREP FOOTBALL TOUR | DISTRICT 16-5A

Cardinal Gibbons will be air-powered

 

For Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons to contend for a playoff berth, it will go as far as its passing game leads it.

 
Cardinal Gibbons players George Rushing, Peyton Bender, Trevor Martin, Trevon Lee and Christan Blake pose on August 10th, 2013 during the Miami Dolphins High School Football Media Day at Sun Life Stadium.
Cardinal Gibbons players George Rushing, Peyton Bender, Trevor Martin, Trevon Lee and Christan Blake pose on August 10th, 2013 during the Miami Dolphins High School Football Media Day at Sun Life Stadium.
Peter Andrew Bosch / Miami Herald Staff

a1fernandez@MiamiHerald.com

Don’t be startled if you hear a loud siren during a football game at Fort Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons.

It just means the Chiefs’ “Air Raid” offense scored another touchdown.

“We call ourselves the Air Raid offense because we use a lot of quick passing to get the ball into our playmaker’s hands,” Gibbons senior quarterback Peyton Bender said. “When we score, we have the air raid siren blaring from the press box. It’s a really cool aspect of our home games, and it’s brought a lot of energy to our games.”

Gibbons hopes to sound the alarm plenty this season as it did in 2012 when its offense averaged 32.4 points per game and was among the best in Broward County.

With Bender, a Washington State University commitment, leading the team’s spread offense, the Chiefs hope to send a warning to state championship contenders Miami Jackson and Plantation American Heritage that they can also contend for a playoff berth in District 16-5A, which also includes Key West.

“We’ve got some good weapons I’ll be throwing to, and the new offense we installed last year is exciting,” Bender said. “This year we have a tough district, but I expect us to be fighting for that spot in the playoffs.”

Bender, the No. 11 overall senior prospect in Broward by the Miami Herald, completed 96 of 176 passes for 1,402 yards, 15 touchdowns and six interceptions last season.

Bender, whose older brother, Chase, played at Gibbons and is now at Colgate University, moved from Atlanta before high school and has been played quarterback since he was 7.

“It’s the fourth year in a row with a Bender leading the offense here, so it’s pretty cool,” Bender said.

Bender led the Chiefs to a 7-3 record last season, but Gibbons finished third in its district behind American Heritage and Fort Lauderdale Dillard.

Bender believes the Chiefs have more firepower and experience this season that he hopes will help them avoid the same predicament.

Gibbons, which will often operate out of a four-wide receiver set, is led by senior Trevon Lee, ranked No. 9 in Broward by the Miami Herald. Lee caught 35 passes for 704 yards and 11 touchdowns last season and is being recruited by several schools, including Duke, Vanderbilt, California and Stanford.

Lee said he and his teammates have been nicknamed the “Bomb Squad.”

Seniors George Rushing and Christian Blake are also two of Bender’s go-to receivers. Bender said a few players are competing for playing time at the fourth spot.

Lee (6-1, 176 pounds) said he gained 10 pounds in the summer, adding to his combination of strength and speed.

Senior Kadeem Smith, an All-Broward first-team selection last season, anchors the offensive line that will have to hold off some of South Florida’s toughest defenses.

“We’re looked at as the underdog, but we like it like that and feel like we can shock people,” Lee said.

COMING UP

• Check out more of the Miami Herald’s High School Football Preseason Tour online as well as the first South Florida Top 20 rankings at www.miamiherald.com/hssports.

• The Miami Herald will publish its Miami-Dade and Broward County High School Football preview sections Aug. 30.

Read more High Schools - Cardinal Gibbons stories from the Miami Herald

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